Why You Have To Keep On Writing, Even When You’re Not

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”  ― Friedrich Nietzsche

This post is for a friend who is struggling with her writing at the moment.

Sometimes we all feel like chucking it in. We think about how much easier our life would be without the urge to write, the need to have written, the pull to create, the calling to translate our experience of being alive into something tangible that we can share. Our house would be cleaner. Our clothes would be properly hemmed and ironed. Our haircut wouldn’t be two months overdue. Our friends wouldn’t ask us about how our writing is going, and we wouldn’t have to hem and haw our way through an answer. We would wake up each morning with a practical and finite to-do list that did not include “write for an hour” or “finish short story” or write anything, anything at all, please.”

We would have peace of mind. All the time.

There is only one flaw in that line of thinking. It’s rubbish.

Writing Frustration
Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/815492

The urge to write does not go away because we tell it to. We might think we can give it up the way we give up a bad habit, but it doesn’t work that way. It would be like trying to give up loving. When we love fully—people, nature, life itself—we sometimes are on a high that seems to buoy us along, but other times our love brings us pain and sorrow and confusion. We might think that the answer is to give up loving so as to prevent the hard times.

We all know that’s not how it works.

If you are a writer who is struggling with the idea of whether you should keep at it, whether because you are comparing yourself to others or you are frustrated with the quest for publication or you simply aren’t writing much at the moment, remember that this, too, will pass.

“The lazy down days are part of the up days. Any day you are writing anything at all, even one sentence, is a cause for celebration. It’s that hard, what we are trying to do. Keep that in mind, and also the equally true thing—if I can do this, you can.” ~ Heather Sellers, Page after Page

1. Write your sentence today.

2. Celebrate.

3. Then watch or re-watch this TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, and tell your Dobby-like genius that you will show up, every day, because you have no choice:

8 thoughts on “Why You Have To Keep On Writing, Even When You’re Not

  1. Thanks for this, Lisa. It’s definitely something I’ll try to think about whenever I get disgusted or despairing. I’ll be watching that TED talk later.

  2. Thank you! A day when I can share the words of Elizabeth Gilbert and Heather Sellers at the same time is a good day. We writers are so very hard on ourselves and need to remind each other that the work we do matters.

  3. Sweet Lisa, your generosity. We’re always working on our brain children, even if only in our head. My kitchen floor is spic ‘n’ span, doubt laid to rest, time to address the manuscript with red pen, getting closer to the end.

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